It's been nearly 15 years since Coquitlam has made any updates to its wildfire action plan.
Now, after witnessing one of B.C.'s worst-ever seasons in history — which saw the Village of Lytton destroyed by a raging blaze and intense heat — city officials have stepped up to document a new Community Wildfire Resiliency Plan thanks to several funds granted this past year.
In a news release, Coquitlam fire chief Jim Ogloff says the plan caters to the community's needs as there are about 5,000 residences along the northeast sector that border forest, wildlands and green spaces.
"Some activities in the plan are already in progress and others will roll out over the next two to five years," he explained.
"Coquitlam Fire/Rescue (CFR) works year-round on wildland interface fire prevention and response, including planning, education and training. Efforts this year have also included the Northeast Sector FireSmart Program, which has been delivering education and free property risk assessments to homes in wildland-urban interface zones across the region this fall."
A consultant was brought in to work with a multi-departmental committee to outline the plan and tabled 43 recommendations for the city to focus on wildfire mitigation and prevention.
Sharing resources and information with neighbouring communities is one takeaway as it coordinates a collective response to any potential blaze.
Others included in the release are:
- Continuing to educate and engage the community in FireSmart activities, including direct outreach with homes in the wildland interface
- Embedding FireSmart principles into policies, neighbourhood plans and park plans
- Preparing for wildfires through inter-agency planning and training with BC Wildfire Service, Metro Vancouver, BC Parks and others
- Managing forest fuels in higher-risk locations, including parks and green spaces
In July, Coquitlam received a piece of a near-$500,000 joint provincial FireSmart Economic Recovery Fund to create educator jobs, thorough property assessments and public outreach.
The money was shared between the city, Port Coquitlam, Anmore and Belcarra.
In February, Coquitlam got an extra $50,000 from the Union of BC Municipalities (UBCM) to help implement FireSmart principles through its wildfire emergency planning.
Ogloff has provided the following tips for residents living near wooded areas and green spaces:
- Keep combustible materials at least 1.5 metres from the home, and piles of firewood at least 10 metres away
- Keep your home’s roof and gutters free of leaves and pine needles, and prune all branches that hang over the roof
- Choose fire-safe vegetation and space it to prevent a continuous line of vegetation leading to the home
- Remove all dead/dry vegetation and trim tree limbs two to three meters from the ground
- Choose non-combustible roofing, building and landscape materials;
- Know where your home’s gas, electric and water shut-offs are
- Have a wildfire escape plan in place
For more information on preparing homes for potential wildfires, you're encouraged to visit the city's website.